Friday, 26 August 2011

How I have used Social Media to Develop Sign2Music

I am delighted to have had my blog post on 'How I have used Social Media to Develop Sign2Music featured on Bill McCartney's excellent website:

Below is a more detailed version of this blog!

How I have used Social Media to Grow Sign2Music?

When I first set up Sign2Music 4 years ago I had never heard of social media. In fact I had just purchased a computer! I started off by developing a very basic website with the main purpose of directing traffic to my e-mail address, which of course was a yahoo address set up for that purpose!

I first dabbled in social media when one of my new teachers mentioned Facebook and suggested it might be something that could be useful for Sign2Music. I wasn’t convinced, but when she asked if she could go ahead and set up a page I thought it would do no harm. Little did I know she was introducing me to a whole new world that would become such an integral part of my business.

My aim in setting up Sign2Music was two fold. As well as running classes and developing programmes my aspiration was to raise public awareness of the benefits of the benefits of signing with babies and toddlers throughout Northern Ireland. With a very limited budget, social media seemed a cost effective way to promote this fantastic communication, bonding and development tool.

In the past few years Sign2Music has grown from strength to strength, with 6 teachers now operating throughout Northern Ireland. Social media has contributed to a huge increase in public awareness about Sign2Music and the benefits of signing. Sign2Music now has 632 Facebook likes, 406 Twitter followers and 146 LinkedIn Connections. The Sign2Music You Tube channel with class clips, sign updates and videos of babies and children signing has proved to be a hit also.

Our Facebook page would be our most active social media platform. There are many businesses whose primary aim to get as many likes as possible. I have fallen into that trap myself. Then on reflection I realised that it is more important for me to have ‘likers’ who are genuinely interested in Sign2Music, enjoy our posts and communicate with us. Our 632 ‘likers’ are quality, rather than simply numbers, making our page attractive as it has so much interaction and information to share. Most ‘likers’ are parents who have come to our classes, parents who are interested in signing, friends of teachers and other businesses. I am pleased that our posts generate so much discussion. I also love the fact that parents will share their experiences on our wall and use Facebook to ask questions.

I am relatively new to Twitter. Until a couple of months ago I simply duplicated any Facebook posts on Twitter and didn’t use it directly. Then I received some valuable advice from a friend, Laura Berg who runs a successful baby signing business, My Smart Hands, in Canada. I have since tried to use Twitter differently and the contacts I have made have been amazing. I have met some great people, internationally, UK wide and from N Ireland that I never would have been able to have contact with had I not been using Twitter. These contacts have opened up so many new opportunities for me and for Sign2Music.

I would still see myself as relatively new and inexperienced in the world of social media but I have no doubt that it has benefited Sign2Music enormously. I have 148 LinkedIn connections and recently received 9 fantastic recommendations from colleagues. We received the endorsement of our service users when they nominated us in 2 categories in the What’s on 4 Little Ones Junior Awards 2011, having been made aware of the Awards via social media. Social media helped us gain support for our nominations, with many local businesses sharing with their followers and the Down News online newspaper running 2 great features. The nomination led to many features in local newspapers, including the Irish News which is one of the biggest newspapers in Northern Ireland. Largely because of this social media fuelled support we reached the final in the Best Local Activities for Under 5s category, making us one of the top 4 local preschool activities in the UK! We have also been nominated in category 6.4, favourite Northern Ireland preschool activity in the Northern Ireland Choice Awards 2011. Hopefully we will have the same local support for this nomination. These Awards are social media based. You can vote for Sign2Music by tweeting, writing on the Facebook wall or e­mailing I nominate Sign2Music category 6.4. Alternatively text to 07716711744 NITODAY AWARDS I nominate Sign2Music category 6.4.

Writing this has made me reflect on the huge transformation I have made in the past couple of years from someone who didn’t own a computer into someone for whom Facebook, Twitter, You Tube, etc are very important and an integral part of my daily activities. What I have realised though is that social media is by no means a free or easy option. While it doesn’t cost money it is costly in terms of a more valuable commodity – time! To develop Sign2Music’s social media strategy to its current level hasn’t been easy for a non-computer savvy person like me. I have spent an inordinate amount of time, and many many late nights and early mornings, in front of my computer, getting to grips with how it all works. A lot of this time has been productive. However, if I am honest some of it hasn’t been. It is so easy to get distracted. Farmville on Facebook was almost in danger of destroying my social media strategy for a while, as I kept getting sidetracked when my crops needed harvested!

Bill McCartney, from Net4Wise Owls,  facilitated an excellent workshop for the Sign2Music teachers at our annual Sign2Music Conference recently. It did make me realise I should have done this much earlier, rather than jumping into social media without a clue and spending so much time stumbling around trying to find my way!

I am certainly not a social media expert but have been able to use social media to grow my business and hope to continue to do so. I have made many many mistakes along the way! If I was to give advice to anyone starting a business who wants to dip their toe into social media I would say:

1. Put the time into developing your strategy before jumping in. If you can get the advice of an expert such as Bill it is worth doing so.

2. Do not think this is a panacea and will be the making of your business. It can help enormously but requires a significant amount of time and effort to make it work.

3. If you work within a team have a shared strategy and approach.

4. Do not spread yourself too thinly between various social media platforms. Concentrate most on the one that works best for your business.

5. Support other businesses, who in turn will support you.

6. Be genuine with your business connections. It is easy to spot someone who is trying to get something out of you for nothing!

7. Spend the time making your page or updates worth liking or following you for.

And Finally 8. Do not go near Farmville!!

If you require further information contact 07874742704
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Good luck!! Deirdre J


  1. Great article about the value of social media. You seem to be using it to fantastic effect!!

    Jen @

  2. Thanks very much for your comments Jen. Love your blog too :)